Politics found to be most discussed topic on Twitter

Posted on : 2012-01-02 11:55 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Twitter now used by the young and politically-engaged to show support for progressive candidates
 I am a Sneak
I am a Sneak

By Yoo Shin-jae

Politics has been shown to be topic with the most “retweets” by Twitter users. A joint poll by the Hankyoreh, Korea Society Opinion Institute, social media analysis firm Cyram, a research team led by SNU sociology professor Jang Deok-jin and the Hankyoreh Social Policy Research Institute found that the issue Koreans deal with most on Twitter was overwhelmingly politics. This suggests that what takes place on Twitter may be a major variable in this year’s general and presidential elections.

Cyram and Professor Jang’s research team analyzed some 230 million tweets from 3,927,519 Korean Twitter accounts between July and September of last year, and found that the Tweets written by users who deal mostly with politics were retweeted an average of 25.8 times, far more than those that dealt with sports (6.05 times), culture-entertainment-arts (5.31 times), society (3.69 times) and economics and business management (3.15 times). As a retweet in Twitter space is an expression of interest or endorsement, this could be interpreted as most Twitter users being highly interested in political issues.

It was those in their 20s and 30s who played a leading role in driving political discussion on Twitter. An online panel poll by Professor Jang’s team of 2,000 Twitter users and 1,000 non-users revealed that the average age of the Twitter users was 28.0, while that of the non-users was 34.4. Some 77.4% of the Twitter users who responded to the survey were in their 20s and 30s.

The Twitter users were also shown to be politically active. A poll by the Hankyoreh showed a strong correlation between frequent Twitter use and voting. Some 73.4% of Twitter users responded that they would definitely vote in the 2012 general election, greater than the 65.3% of non-users who said they would. The younger the respondee, the bigger the gap. For Twitter users, 66.7% of those aged 19 to 29 and 66.1% of those in their 30s expressed an active intention to vote, while for non-users, only 49.1% of those aged 19 to 29 and 61.8% of those in their 30s did. Professor Jang predicted those in their 20s and 30s who have discussed politics through Twitter would cause great changes in the 2012 general and presidential elections.

The sentiment on Twitter is leaning towards the opposition. In a panel poll conducted last August and September by Professor Jang’s team and pollsters Embrain of 2,000 Twitter users, 61.3% of respondents said in a two-way race, they would support Ahn Cheol-soo, while 16.1% said they would support Park Geun-hye.

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